Writers’ Block

At some point, everyone who writes must deal with a case of writers’ block.  I’ve found that in my case, the key to getting past it depends on figuring out what the root cause for the block is, and coming up with a strategy to deal with it.

And yes, I’ve found that different causes require different strategies.  The suggested “just sit down and write” is part of it, but is so simplistic that it tends to make it worse because you’re not sure how to even get started to “sit down and write” to get past the block.

I say “simplistic” because, at root, yes, you do have to sit down and write.  It’s how and what you’re writing that determines whether it works or not.

For example, I’ve found that the most common causes for writers’ block for me is that I get so far into envisioning where I want the story to end up that I lose track of how I’m supposed to getting the characters there.  Other times, I have a character that DOES NOT WANT.  Doesn’t want to go where I want them to go, get there in that way, or do anything.  I’m taking the story in the wrong direction.  And sometimes, I get overwhelmed/intimidated by the scope of a story and freeze.

I got stuck on my current (but nearly finished) project for THREE YEARS.  Partially because I’d envisioned the beginning and the end, but couldn’t get the middle to gel, and partially because, when I tried to write the middle, I tried going in the wrong direction.  So, I figured out where it started feeling forced, backed up (cutting 4K words), and took it in a different direction that was going to end up in a different place in the character’s story–no more “How am I going to get the characters from here to there?  And better yet, he’s finally listening to the older character that does no better  in their given situation.  And yes, I did do a lot of long hand drafting.  Had to, to figure out which direction the characters wanted to go in.

Then, there’s the other issue with rude plots barging in, demanding to be written RIGHT NOW, thank you…then getting bigger, more complex, and broader in the ideas and story line.  That story (2/3  of the way finished) got intimidating real quick.  When I started feeling like “I can’t write this one,” I’d sit down and write a short story.  One in no way related to the piece of fiction kicking my butt.  And then, I’d plot just the next arc of the story, then flesh it out.  Sometimes, it would be done long hand, because looking at the page/word count down in the bottom left corner got to be a bit much until I had the next scene, the next chapter, the next plot arc finished in first draft, and ready to be transcribed.

Yes.  I am saying that if you feel overwhelmed by a big project, get blocked, or find yourself procrastinating, break it into smaller chunks and just do the little chunks (they add up).  This does translate to more than writing.

Yes, “just write your way through the writers’ block” is a good, basic piece of advise, but is way too simplistic to work in the same way for every person.

This is how it works for me.  Your mileage may vary.